I spend most Thursday and Friday mornings at the gym in the pool. I’m not an expert swimmer, but I have taken a liking to the exercise. Friday mornings are my favorite. Want to know why?

Water aerobics.

There are about 2 dozen women aged 60ish-90ish in the pool moving and grooving to everyone from Marvin Gay to One Direction. I freaking love them. I love their energy, I love their camaraderie, I love their gossip. 

But what I love most of all… what nearly moves me to tears week after week… is the love these women have for their bodies. 

These women, who are well past their physical prime, walk around in their birthday suits with comfort and ease. For a woman like me, in my thirties, I love witnessing the freedom that comes with finding a true comfort in your own skin. 

Here’s the thing. We women are too dang hard on ourselves. Most women really suck at loving their own body.

I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. But I’m working really hard to love what the good Lord gave me. 

These women have wrinkles and sags and spots, and my God… it is beauty. 

For those of us fortunate enough to have a stretch mark or two from being pregnant, find gratitude. Perhaps you are lucky enough to maintain that fabulous lower abdominal pooch… gratitude. Maybe our once perfect ta-tas have lost a little perk… thank you. The wonderment of being able to get pregnant and then carry and deliver a little one is a miraculous feat. And our weird and wonderful bodies made it happen. As we criticize that extra baby weight or mourn the fact that our bras can no longer come from Target, let us remember those that would give anything to experience the miracle of pregnancy. Let us find joy in a moment with our child. Let us remember the generations before us that bear similar scars of wonderment. Let us be grateful for the imperfections.

For those of us who have a spider vein or a dimple in a place besides our face. For all of us with a thigh or two that we believe needs thinning or toning, find gratitude. We have strong legs that move us through our daily happenings. To carry us through life. Perhaps they have helped us walk into a new job, or they have carried us down the aisle toward a love or maybe they take us through parks and cities and countries on adventures. These are legs that work for us, and they do not let us down. Let us be grateful for their strength. Let us be grateful for the imperfections. 

For those of us that look in the mirror and see creases appearing on our faces for the first (or hundredth) time, find gratitude. For every joy, smile, worry, fear, surprise is captured in those tiny crevices. They are miniature maps of our lives. Of the ups and downs and the round and rounds. Let us stare at our faces of beauty and be pleased with what stares back. Let us be grateful for the imperfections. 

Let us joyfully and fearlessly end the compare game. Different is beautiful. And sacred. 

I love those gray haired women for being an example to me of finding comfort in your own skin. For finding gratitude that my lungs breathe air in and out, that my heart pumps blood, that my brain works for me (some days more than others) without fail, that my feet, legs, stomach, arms, neck, face and all of the rest of it are solely mine. And they are strong. And they are lovely. 

Love yourself today. 

XO, 

Leah